The 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria have just been concluded and for me, there are many lessons to be learned.
I do not speak from the standpoint of a person affiliated to any particular political party but as a concerned parent and citizen. I also do not stand as ‘judge’ because I consider myself to be on trial too. I just think that we need to ask ourselves pertinent questions.
All kinds of drama have played out throughout this election period but the one I have not been able to wrap my head around is the dismal number of people that actually voted. In a country of 189 million people with 82 million being registered voters, only about 29 million cast their votes! Something is wrong.
Yes, we can give different ‘valid’ reasons but in most instances, it all boils down to the fact that it really just was not important enough. My worry though is how can the future of your nation not be a priority?
I know many people are disillusioned. Some have lost faith in our country and leaders so they “can’t be bothered”. Others have convinced themselves that their ‘one vote’ wouldn’t make a difference – well everyone’s vote actually does make a difference.
Let me be the first to wash my linen in public. There was nothing I didn’t say to my daughter who is 24, to get her PVC. Her excuses ranged from – “it’s too stressful” to “what difference would my vote make?” My emotions oscillated between frustration, anger, and disappointment – disappointed that I was not able to convince her.
Were the excuses valid? Yes! Really, why should getting PVC be such a problem? Why can’t our systems work efficiently? Truth be told, Nigerians sometimes have a knack for complicating what should be a relatively straightforward process. Whether it’s getting a Driver’s license, an International Passport or a Voters Card.
Having said that, the reality of life is that it sometimes can be stressful! Is that enough reason to give up? People have been known to endure extreme hardship to achieve what they consider important. So I guess the question is – How important is the choice of who leads us in Nigeria to you?
Then there was the issue of the postponement of the elections at the 11th hour. Very annoying! People had spent money to travel, businesses had closed down production lines to enable their employees to prepare adequately to vote. Could INEC have been more efficient? Did they have to wait till the last minute to know if holding the election on 16th February 2019 would be feasible? I’m sure not. So anybody would be justified to be annoyed. The question is – at what cost?
Some of us have waited at airports for several hours to catch a flight that keeps getting delayed. But because it’s important that we make the trip, we endure. Yes, we get angry, frustrated but we endure the inconvenience because we hope/believe it would be worth it at the end of the day.
Finally, the issue of the queue on Election Day. In some places it was looong!! I spent about 4 hours before I eventually cast my vote and my polling unit was in one of the ‘low density’ areas. It still beats me why the process from accreditation to actually casting one’s vote was that cumbersome. In a world that is driven by technology, it was irritating and annoying to watch a guy flip through several pages just to confirm the cardholder’s identity. Aah, then the overworked Youth Corper who was stamping the back of the ballot paper. By 11 am she was visibly frustrated. She was rolling her eyes, being short-tempered and somewhat disrespectful. In fairness to her, two people should have handled the assignment she was carrying out but….. One thing that amazed me though was how she was suddenly revived and full of energy when she spotted one of our young Naija celebrity musicians who she described as her “man crush”. Her entire countenance changed. All I was hearing was “awww, aaah, oh my God! My man crush is here”. I sha begged her to please focus so we could get the exercise over and done with.
Anyway back to my point on long queues. A couple of weeks ago, Big Brother Naija (BBN) was auditioning for 2019 housemates. The media was agog with stories about the humongous queues and how ‘hopefuls’ had gotten to the venue of the audition from 12.30 a.m!
So my question is what really is important to us? Regardless of what generation you belong to, your actions or inactions today would have an impact on Nigeria tomorrow. Making ourselves uncomfortable while we work at repairing the inefficiencies in our system is the only way we can build the ‘Nigeria’ all our children would thank us for.
The good news is that the fate of Nigeria is not in the hands of one man except if we choose to make it so by not doing what we ought to and prioritizing what is really important.
Going by our antecedents, the die-hards may just treat this as another post but at least I would have said my piece. Who knows someone, somewhere might be converted.
My name is Charity Ladi Babatunde and these are my musings.
Charity Ladi Babatunde, a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, is the founder of RAVE Et Al and the pioneer DQ Ambassador in Africa.
Through her social enterprise RAVE Et Al (RAVE); her YouTube program “What We Wish Our Parents Knew”(#WWWOPK); her books – A Naija Parents Guide To Having The Talk: Sex & More” & “A Naija Parents Guide To Having The Talk: Drugs & Substance Abuse” and her blog www.parentinvestment.com, Charity continues to impact the lives of thousands of children, teens and emerging adults and provide invaluable tips for parents and “parent figures”, as they parent in this digital age.
Charity who is passionate about seeing Nigeria become more of a society where success is driven by values, is married and has two amazing young adults who have equipped her with the much needed practical experience for this wonderful journey of parenting.